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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

So here's the blue ribbon winner.... TaDa!

Above is Cheesecake and some of the many children that thought she was just wonderful!

And here he is... the blue ribbon Shetland Ram. Well, ok, so he's not posed, neither am I, but it was a good moment anyways! Look at that lucious wool...what a lovely boy he is!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Remember this song?

When the moon comes over the mountain... ahhh, it was a beautiful cool night here with the moon rising, I thought I'd grab my camera. It's 3 hours away from the lunar eclipse, so I thought I'd take a photo now since I won't be awake at that time of night.

Still celebrating our wins at the Alaska State Fair Open Livestock Shows. Captain, a son of the magnificent Pan, took the blue ribbon for Shetland Rams. Cheesecake, Flutter, and Sleeping Beauty all took the top 3 placings for ewes too. We are pretty darned thrilled with Mary Ellen's Minwawe sheep she sent us - thank you ME, the kids are happy and healthy and well loved and admired. They have many new friends now I'm sure and were a hit at the fair!

Another win was our Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Goat named Wahooroo. Wahoo won Division Champion over all of the other goats entered. That was a huge win, a best in show. I am thrilled! What an honor... and I am her breeder too.

The sheep got to come home tonight. They were very happy to be all together again, afterall, it's too early for breeding so they get to stay together in one big happy group. The older ewes of mine were non-plused of course...oh ho-hum, the kids are back, now we have to share again...hahahaha!

Did I tell you? Cheesecake is my new kid. She is my light moorit ewe, and my favorite to hold. Why? Because she is like a squeeze toy! When you pick her up and hold her in your arms, she will make the most lovely, soft sound...she says 'Maaaaahh'. No, it is not a bah, nor a scream, not even loud...just a tiny soft gentle is the most beautiful sound. Children love her, she doesn't scare them with her soft voice. We ALL own a loud obnoxious ewe that can make the hair fall off your arm, right? If not, then you haven't had enough sheep long enough! I think Cheesecake is going to have to go with us to our goat club charity events in the future...time to get her a very special wool rope halter lead I do believe!

I hope you enjoyed tonight's photo, and I'll type again soon!

Wait, did I hear you humming that song???

Friday, August 17, 2007

Summer's are too busy!

I'm sitting here too tired to type, but I just realized that I hadn't posted in ages. People might think I fell off the edge of the world into the Arctic Ocean, so I thought I'd drop in to say hello. Hello! Thought you'd like a photo of my Delphinium in bloom. If you look closely, you'll see a bee with an orange butt from collecting pollen, hiding in one of the blooms. I like my camera!
How do YOU like winter? Do you mind tending to your flock's needs in the winter time? I don't think I mind. I mind extreme heat much more than the cold. I feel badly for all the people who are having to deal with 100 plus degree heat. There is nothing you can do for animals or humans in extreme heat. You can take all of your clothes off but still not be comfortable. Someone, actually several someones, have asked me just how can I handle the cold. Well, it's pretty easy. You keep putting on layers until you're warm. They make very nice layers nowadays, but when it's all said and done, sheep wool is still the best warmer-upper. When I was a kid, wool itched. It stung. It hurt. I could NOT stand wearing anything wool. Now tho, the processing of wool must have gotten much better. It's soft. It's warm. When I'm going to be working on something wet, like pulling ice chunks out of something, I wear wool gloves. My hands are still warm although wet. Same for my tootsies... toasty warm.

When the daylight begins to shorten, I begin thinking of winter. I guess I'm a survivalist. I also care very much about all of my animals and their long winter ahead. I want them to survive well too, then I will be able to enjoy spring and lambs and all the other babies that arrive with the longer daylight hours. The garden is already half way finished... the broccolli has come to an end, so they are being cleaned out of the beds and everyone with 4 hooves or 2 chicken legs are eating leaves and stalks with joy. We've been eating a few servings of young carrots. Lots of tomatoes in the greenhouse this year too - yes, toasted tomato sandwiches! Red cabbage up the kazoo already, there are at least 9 more heads weighing 5-10 pounds each sitting there, still growing. The lettuce is pooped out, it finally bolted so more animal food now. The onions are coming along well, as are the beets and brussel sprouts. Did I mention that 'the boys' decided they wanted to plant potatoes this year? No, not the nice few rows of red potatoes that I always plant in the garden. They planted a half acre of potatoes. And they've grown. And grown. and Grown. I believe the expected yield is around 2,000 pounds. Like we need 2,000 pounds of white potatoes with pink eyes on them. But hey, there was room in the new hayfield to plant them so I guess we'll be having a potato picking party next month. Lots of potatoes grown up here, it's a pretty huge business for some farmers anyways. So with the great garden harvest underway for the next month now, again my thoughts go back to the sheep and the upcoming winter. They are getting extra hay right now so they gain plenty of weight before the cold hits. No use waiting until the cold is already here, they can't gain weight fast enough as they deal with the cold, so best to put it on early.

Now, what else.......oh, the state fair starts this coming Wednesday night. The sheep go to the fair on Thursday morning before the public comes. I think they will be a fabulous hit! Maybe some people will want lambs next spring... and I will be happy to take orders for them too should I get any! Some of my goats are going to the shows too, so today I drug out the stock trailer and the pressure washer and cleaned the white beast. Put a bale of straw, a bale of hay, and a bale of pine shavings into the manger. It's supposed to shower for the next few days so until I'm ready to load up next week, things will stay put, stay dry, in the manger.

Someone asked if goats milk makes good fetta cheese...of course it does! That is what the Greeks have used for centuries. Sheeps milk, goats milk - both make great cheeses. My favorite is Chevre - in part because it's so easy to make, in part because my breed of goats, Nigerian Dwarf, also produces tons of butterfat and their milk is very sweet, not goaty tasting at all. The Chevre tastes better than cream cheese, is not so sticky in your mouth either. Even notice how chilled cream cheese sticks likes peanut butter to the roof of your mouth? YUCK! Chevre doesn't do that, it's a tad more crumbly unless you mix it up to blend it smoothly. Has anyone out there that you know made sheeps milk cheese? I wonder what it tastes like! Sheep?

So how are doing?